Monday night. I was sitting on the couch having my heart broken via text when I saw a shadow move across the wall. Something big – so big I could hear its wings – was flying through the air.
Fthpth fthpth fthpth
Before I could process what I was seeing, the creature landed on the handle of a broom I have leaning in the corner and I could see that it was a waterbug aka American cockroach aka palmetto bug. I might have uttered some of my finest combinations of swear words but I don’t remember exactly. I was up, shoe in hand, ready for battle. I whacked it with all my might but the monster dodged me and fell behind a box off books I have waiting for donation. I tried to continue the attack but the ghastly beast was gone.
I shook it off and sat back down on the couch. I had been sleeping there for the past two nights after I found a waterbug on my pillow on the way to bed on Friday. I noped right the fuck out of there and took shelter in the living room. You see, there was a day last week that I had killed another one on my bedroom wall so after the pillow incident, I decided the whole room was godforsaken.
I know that NYC has this reputation for being roach infested and overrun with rats but this is a problem I’ve never had to deal with before. When I moved into my first apartment building, a friend had told me that every building has bugs and what measures to take to keep them out of your unit. Basically garbage out every day, dishes always washed, food sealed, counters wiped – no exceptions. I have followed this ever since but waterbugs still come in every now and then when it’s wet and hot. I’ve had maybe four of them in the seven years I’ve lived there and all four had been properly vanquished with a shoe.
Oh wait let me back up - a waterbug FLEW. IT FLEW! Through the air. Using its WINGS!!!!
I was horrified. I have never seen this behavior before and when, every once in a blue moon, one of my fellow New Yorkers mention, “flying roaches,” I’d quietly roll my eyes at their gullibility. Flying roaches were a myth. Like alligators1 in the sewers and rats2 as big as cats and Cropsey3. Okay... so maybe there was some truth here.
A few minutes later, another one went crawling across the wall and again I was ready with my shoe and so shaken I didn’t even flinch at the cracking sound it made when I smashed it.
Then the dogs got riled up and chased another one airborne across the room. This one landed on my exercise ball and managed to escape my wrath when I smacked it with a flip flop that wasn’t strong enough to kill it. It bounced from the ball and scurried into my yoga mat and disappeared when I gave chase.
After a few more hits and misses, I decided to cut my losses. I called my dad to come get me and the dogs. The bugs had won the apartment.
You always wonder what you’ll grab in case of an emergency? I’ll tell you: some clothes, enough socks to last half the amount of days that the underwear you pack will, a tooth brush, your glasses and contact case but not your solution, a razor for your pits, four pair of shoes but not the ones containing your very necessary orthotics, and some dogfood.
Then I spent the longest 45 minutes of my life waiting for dad to arrive. I missed one in the kitchen but it gave me the idea to defend myself with the spray bottle of vinegar that I keep for the rare occasion one of my pups leaves a puddle not on the wee wee pad. Apparently vinegar will kill them in a few hours so I figured I’d spray first and smash later just in case I missed. It worked well on the next two bugs that made their presence known.
It really, truly felt like I was under siege by the time pop came through with the rescue.
So, at any rate, I’m living with my folks now. I’m back to running in the park that started it all. (See! Not entirely nrr, right?) I went back yesterday for clothes and put out some combat traps. I’ve been in touch with the building and the exterminator is coming on Friday. No one else in my building has complained but two other top floor units in a separate building that may or may not share a roof with my building are having the same problem. Hmmmm…
2 https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/giant-rat-killed-pitchfork-marcy-houses-believed-gambian-pouched-rat-article-1.946931 (Warning the pic is disturbing)